Under your breath I hear your soft voice break
Can we still be friends
I hear you talking but you’re just not making sense
I’ve been hoping for a happy ending
Now I know that there won’t be any
– A Few Words Too Many (Billie Myers)
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Emily Bowen-Quartermaine sipped her iced tea and perused her anatomy textbook, waiting out Elizabeth’s shift. Her friend had been avoiding her all week—avoiding everyone really, as far as she could tell—and today was the day Emily pinned her down about it.
She turned a page and reflected at how different their friendship seemed to be now that Emily was home. They’d called, emailed and written each other while Emily had been in rehab in Arizona, and then at UCLA last year, but Emily had abruptly cut off all contact for almost three months last year after Elizabeth had admitted to sleeping with Zander Smith.
Emily wrinkled her nose, thinking about it again. Nothing bothered her more than thinking of the two of them together, and the only way she could look Elizabeth in the eye was if she put that completely out of her head.
Finally, Elizabeth emerged from the diner, a large tote bag over her shoulder. She tucked in green apron inside and took the seat across from Emily. Smiling wanly, she set the bag on the ground. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Emily took a deep breath. She was still best friends with Elizabeth. If she just ignored how angry she was about Zander, then she could get through this. If she pretended everything was good between them, then eventually it would be. She marked her page and closed the book, leaning back in her chair. “You look like crap.”
“Thanks.” Elizabeth rubbed her eyes. “I haven’t really been sleeping.”
Emily smiled brightly. “Is Ric keeping you awake?” she teased, but was surprised when any color the other woman had possessed faded from her cheeks. “Liz?”
“I’m…” Elizabeth hesitated, twisting the napkin in front of her. “I’m not seeing him anymore.”
“Oh.” Emily frowned. “He seemed really nice, you know. And I thought you liked him.”
“Yeah…” Elizabeth sighed. “Well, I think maybe it was just too soon for me to get involved with someone seriously.” She bit down on her lower lip. “Em…I’m pregnant.”
Emily blinked. “But you just said you broke up with Ric.” She furrowed her brow. “I don’t understand, Elizabeth. I mean, maybe he’s not perfect, but he was really nice to you. And you need to move on. You know you do. You’re pregnant.” She nodded firmly. “You should give him another chance. Don’t…don’t give up too quickly.”
“I know I need to move on,” Elizabeth murmured. “It’s just not as easy as you might think.” She exhaled slowly, and Emily resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “There are reasons I can’t…I can’t be with Ric.”
“Liz.” Emily hesitated, but decided the blunt truth was for the best. “Look, I totally know what it’s like to love someone who doesn’t love you back. It really sucks, but you can’t sit around pining for Jason. My brother, even if he really was that interested, is dating Courtney now.”
Elizabeth stared at her for a moment, as if confused by her words. “If he really was that interested…?” she repeated faintly.
Nope, Emily was not going to feed into this. She’d become friendly with Courtney Matthews since coming home, and it was clear that Jason had been interested in the blonde all last fall, long before Elizabeth had moved out of the penthouse. “Liz, I know you were staying at the penthouse, but that was to protect Zander. It’s not like you were living together.”
“I…” Elizabeth twisted her fingers together. “We talked about it…”
“You know Jason’s a man of action. If he wanted to be with you, he would,” Emily assured her. “Look at everything he did for Courtney.” Guilt settled in her stomach as Elizabeth’s cheeks flushed. “I’m not trying to hurt you, but I just…I want you to live in reality.”
“I know…I know you’re right about one thing,” Elizabeth said after a long moment. “If Jason wanted to be with me, he would.” She looked away. “I ruined it, and maybe he was trying to be nice when he told me it was too dangerous.” Her lips twisted. “It’s not too dangerous for Courtney, clearly.”
“The sooner you face the truth, the better off you’ll be.” Emily nodded firmly. “So if you’re pregnant, you should tell Ric and give him the opportunity to be the man you deserve.” Pleased, she stowed her text in her bag. “I’m glad we could talk about this honestly. You know I only want you to be happy.”
“I know.” But Elizabeth wouldn’t meet her eyes. Emily thought they might need to have this conversation once or twice more before Elizabeth really understood that her brother was out of her life for good. Emily was aware just how Elizabeth ruined her chance with Jason. After screwing with him two years earlier, she’d jerked him around again last summer, and probably slept with Zander to make him jealous.
Jason was better off, and one day, Elizabeth would find someone who would remind her how nice she used to be. Emily missed the girl who’d been dating Lucky. That Elizabeth had been her best friend, and Emily wanted her back.
Elm Street Pier
Elizabeth stopped at the bottom of the steps and took a moment to sit on the bench, closing her eyes and trying to force the conversation with Emily out of her head. She knew that her friendship with Jason’s sister would suffer a little considering what had happened last summer, but somehow she thought they would be able to get it back, rebuild it.
Emily had come home without warning the month before, and though they’d tried to be close again, it had felt hollow. Elizabeth had gone to a few dinners with Emily, Lucky and Nikolas, and it just felt like the four of them felt they should be friends like they had been four years ago and if they spent enough time together, it would feel natural again.
Despite Emily’s coolness, Elizabeth knew that she couldn’t blame Emily for trying to push her back to Ric. Emily didn’t know all the information. And even if the words had hurt…she needed to be reminded that the relationship she thought she’d been building with Jason really had been in her head.
“I knew I’d finally track you down.”
Elizabeth’s eyes snapped open as she saw Ric stepping off the bottom stair, with a grin on his face. Oh, she was going to be sick right here in front of him, she just knew it.
Ric continued towards her and Elizabeth fought the urge to get up and run. “You haven’t returned my phone calls all week.” He stopped in front of the bench and slid his hands in the pockets of his light tan khakis. “What’s going on, Beautiful?”
Elizabeth squared her shoulders and stood. Time to channel her inner Lizzie Webber. That annoying smart-ass was still inside, somewhere. She was sure of it. “Can’t take a hint, Ric?” she asked coolly.
She watched his narrow, and wonder how stupid she’d been to miss the calculation in those brown eyes. “A hint?” he repeated, his tone matching hers.
Elizabeth tightened her grip on her tote bag slung over her shoulder. “Usually,” she bit out, “when someone stops returning calls and texts, they’re trying to brush you off.”
She took a step towards the other side of the docks, towards her studio, but he stepped in front of her. “Whoa, what changed, Elizabeth?” He put his hands up, preventing her from darting to the side. “I thought we were having a good time—”
“Well, you thought wrong.” Elizabeth tossed head back, her hair swinging over her shoulder. “So I’m going to leave now, Ric, and you’re going to let me.”
He took a step towards her, and Elizabeth felt it necessary to step back, feeling her ire fade and her nerves kick in. This was the man who was in league with Faith Roscoe. Maybe she should have handled this differently. “Listen, Ric—”
“You’ve been talking to Sonny or Jason.” She tried to keep her expression level, her eyes unchanged, but there must have been something, because his lips pressed together. “Jason. He told you something. Now, you know you can’t trust him—”
“It has nothing to do with Sonny or Jason. They’ve told me nothing,” Elizabeth cut in. Maybe they would have warned her again, had Jason not seen her two days earlier, almost in a fetal position, after hearing the truth. “I can make my own decisions—”
“No, no…” Ric wagged a finger at her. “They’ve poisoned you against me, Elizabeth. I can’t believe you’d trust them after everything Jason has done.” He stepped towards her, voice softening. “I know he broke your heart, Elizabeth, but I care about you—”
“I would like you to leave me alone,” Elizabeth said. She tried to step around him again, but again Ric stepped in front her. Oh, God. What was she going to do if he didn’t move? Could she run? If she turned and ran the way she came, back up the stairs…could she get away? “Ric, please let me walk away.”
“No, I want to know what they said to make you run away from me,” Ric snarled, all charm vanished from his voice. His face changed, and Elizabeth knew she was seeing the Ric Lansing now, all layers of charm stripped away. “What did they tell you, Elizabeth?” He reached for her arm, and Elizabeth stumbled back.
“Nothing,” Elizabeth repeated, struggling to keep her voice level. “Ric, I’m telling you the truth. I haven’t talked to Sonny or Jason in weeks.”
“Right,” Ric drawled. “Well, that’s certainly possible since we both know they’ve basically forgotten your existence.”
Nausea was climbing up her throat, and Elizabeth thought this was a hell of a time to be suffering that morning sickness that never seemed to happen in the morning. He could not, absolutely could not, see her getting sick.
Ric could never find out about this baby. This conversation had sealed the deal on that.
“It’s true we’re not close anymore,” Elizabeth said, slowly, “but I’m sure if I needed them, I could ask for help.” When Ric just smirked, Elizabeth took a small step back. Get close to the steps. Maybe she could kick him and then run. “But I don’t need them, because they’ve said nothing to me, okay? I just…” She licked her lips. “I just don’t want to date you anymore. Why isn’t that enough?”
“Because you’re lying to me. Sonny told you something, I know he did.” Ric reached out for her, and Elizabeth stumbled back again. She was lifting her leg to kick him in the knees, just like Jason taught her once, when boots clattered down the steps like a freight train.
Before Elizabeth could really process what was happening, Jason had passed her, grabbed Ric by the throat and sent him sprawling on the docks. She just blinked.
“You just don’t know when to quit, do you?” Jason snarled. He reached for Ric again, to do what, Elizabeth couldn’t imagine, but Ric crawled away frantically. “Sonny told you to get the hell out of town.”
“I knew it,” Ric hissed, glaring at her, rising to his feet. “I knew Jason told you everything—”
“Told me what?” Elizabeth said, feeling some of Lizzie filter back in. “That I’m amusing and it’s entertaining to screw Jason Morgan’s ex-bed buddy? To pretend to sleep with Carly because sleeping with me wasn’t giving you enough leverage?” She raised an eyebrow. “Is that what you think they told me?”
Ric stared at her, and Elizabeth was stunned at the loathing that crept into his expression. He took a step forward, but a growl from Jason stopped him. “You would believe them—”
“They didn’t have to tell me.” Elizabeth folded her arms across her chest. “No one bothered to check to see if Kelly’s was empty. I was closing when you decided to tell your half-brother all the details.”
“Elizabeth,” Jason said quietly, looking at her. “Francis is at the top of the stairs. He’ll walk you back to the studio.”
“Oh, so she can leave me here and you can deal with me?” Ric growled. “Don’t bother.” He sent Elizabeth another glare, and disappeared into the shadows.
Elizabeth released a breath, and lowered herself to sit on the bottom step of the stairs, wishing she could just disappear. “Well, go ahead and yell at me.”
She felt Jason sit next to her. “Why would I yell?”
She opened her eyes, but didn’t dare look at him. “At least an I told you so would probably suffice. I wouldn’t be in this position if I had just…” She sighed, remembering her conversation with Emily. “If I had just kept my head on straight.” Elizabeth stood and bit her lip. “Thank you for getting rid of him.”
“He might come back and harass you,” Jason warned. “He’s in trouble with…” He looked away. “He’s in trouble with people who aren’t in Sonny’s position, so it might not be a problem for too much longer.”
“Hmm…” Elizabeth nodded, understanding. Well, then maybe Ric would be out of her life before he could find out she was pregnant. “Well, let’s hope that’s true.” Her stomach rolled in protest and she wondered if she was going make it to her studio. She could not get sick in front Jason. “I’m going to get going. I, ah…” She smiled weakly. “I’m not feeling that great, so…”
“I’ll walk you back to your studio,” Jason said, taking a step towards her but Elizabeth shook her head. Because that would be a disaster.
“No, no. Um.” She licked her lips. “That’s really not necessary, okay? I don’t think…” She cast her eyes up the top of the stairs. “Maybe Francis can walk me. It’s not far.” She frowned and then looked back at him. “How did you know I was down here?”
When Jason looked away, Elizabeth felt a little of her ire at him fade. Despite everything, maybe he still thought of her as a friend. “Francis called you because he’s watching me.”
“Ah…” Jason dipped his chin to his chest. “Yeah. After Friday…I figured you’d be breaking things off with Ric, so I just…” He jerked a shoulder. “Sonny thought it was the least we could do.” He paused. “Since it’s really our fault Ric targeted you.”
Immediately, the warmth in her stomach faded. Pity. Guilt. No, that fit her life much more. “No, it’s my fault,” Elizabeth said, firmly. She was not going to let them take this on. “Maybe he sought me out because we used to be friends, but I didn’t have to date him.” She sighed. “And maybe his research should have been better. I’m sure he’s pissed he wasted all those months asking me questions.”
Jason frowned. “He asked you questions? About us?” He paused. “About me and Sonny, I mean.”
“Yeah, which should have been my first sign.” Elizabeth rubbed her forehead, forcing the bile down. “But you know, I thought the threat would come with explosives or guns, not questions from someone who said I was beautiful.” Shut up, Elizabeth. Shut up. “Anyway, you don’t have to worry. I don’t know anything, and even if I did, I wouldn’t say anything.” She straightened her shoulders. “I don’t want you feeling guilty. I got myself into this situation, and I don’t need you get me out of it.” She hesitated. “I may need you to throw Ric around again, but other than that…I can take care of myself.”
“Okay.” Jason nodded slowly. “Well, if you don’t want me to walk you home, then…I’ll get Francis.” After another moment, he walked passed her and started up the stairs.
The last thing she needed was more time in Jason’s company. She would rather jump in the harbor. She just needed Ric to get out of town, and then figure out the best way to support herself and a baby.
And figure out what to tell people about the father. No one could ever know about Ric. She had to protect her child.